Quick, what is the artist’s way out?

  • Paint a door on a blank wall; open it and exit.
  • Write in a superhero who swoops down and rescues you
  • Sing at the top note of your register – break all the windows – and then make a run for it.
  • Mime a rope, and climb it to the rafters, and escape through the skylight.

I could go on. (Believe me.) But I digress. Truthfully I was talking about a way out of stuck, called The Artists Way, by Julia Cameron (1992). I have long been a big fan of Cameron’s way of creative recovery, as described in the book of the same name, and many since. My favorite iteration of her material is called: Walking in this World, (Penguin, 2003).

In Storytellers Summit 2016, I interviewed Kim Childs, an experienced Artist’s Way practitioner, and we got a great inside look at how the Artist’s Way can help you get unstuck, out of depression, out of resistance and back into your life, and your creativity. Kim has deep understanding of Cameron’s methods and teachings and shared them with us generously. You can listen to Kim Childs’ interview, here.

Kim and I have both had transformative experiences with Julia Cameron’s work, and group experiences. We discussed many of the creative recovery tools she’s famous for:

  • Morning Pages
  • The Artist’s Dates

Affirmations and Blurts

Kim also reintroduced me to a tool called Affirmations and Blurts, in which you write down a statement you hope is true, or that you hope you can make true, like:

“I’m going to write ten pages a day for the rest of my life.”

Then, you wait.  Your brain blurts its objections, like, “yeah, right,” or “you can’t do that. You can’t stick to a plan.”

Whatever the objections try to stay present long enough to hear them and write them down. Don’t enter into an argument right away, just let the negative beliefs surface and be heard.

It’ll do you a world of good to actually hear what you normally ignore, verbally. Your mind ignores the thoughts, but your body does not. Your mood shifts as the new negative thought starts to win out over the original affirmation. You have no idea why you don’t stick to the goal, or why you lose enthusiasm for it.

If you can, at least, hear the negative thoughts, then you can combat them, more effectively. It’s an inspiring way forward. Do you ever wonder why you make assertions and plans, and later find yourself watching tv and eating potato chips? This tool can help you decode that shift.